Floridians are no strangers to danger. Whether we are hunkering down to take cover from powerful hurricanes or braving the traffic that our thriving tourism industry brings to our state, we rely on insurance to give us peace of mind, and to help us get back on track in the event of a natural disaster or accident.
Unfortunately, we cannot always rely on our insurance companies to act in our best interest, even if we are paying for comprehensive coverage. Despite what your insurance policy may state, your insurance company may decide against protecting your rights or covering the damages you are owed.
And, regardless of how helpful and trustworthy the insurance adjuster assigned to your case is, you must remember that their job is to settle your insurance claim for as little as possible. In fact, rather than processing your claim in a timely manner, an insurance company may engage in bad faith tactics in order to reduce your settlement or avoid paying you entirely.
Today we discuss the bad faith practices that an insurance company may engage in to avoid paying your claim.
Why do homeowner insurance companies stall?
Stall tactics are strategies intentionally deployed by an insurance company in bad faith with the goal of avoiding or delaying a payout to a covered claimant to boost profits. Insurance companies may seek to delay payment for a variety of reasons including some that are legitimate. Typically, an insurance company will put off settling a claim if:
- The insurance company is waiting on additional documentation after an accident or covered incident such as medical records or an accident report.
- The insurance company suspects that you have filed a fraudulent claim and is investigating in further depth.
- The insurance company is acting in bad faith with the hope that you will settle for less money than your claim is worth, or even drop the claim entirely.
It is important to keep in mind that insurance companies are for-profit businesses, so they will always seek to pay the least amount possible to settle your claim. However, that does not mean they are acting in bad faith. Below are some common stall tactics that may indicate your insurance company is acting in bad faith.
- An insurance company may reject your claim because the adjuster could not get your, the insured party, cooperation to complete their investigation. Although you will need to cooperate with your insurance company, your level of cooperation, unless you refuse to participate at all, should not impede an insurance adjuster’s ability to complete their investigation.
- Another stall tactic deployed by insurance adjusters is to ask for information vital to the investigation in increments, rather than asking for all the necessary documentation at once which allows your insurance company to delay your claim by extending their investigation.
- Finally, if an insurance company repeatedly changes your representative or insurance adjuster assigned to your case, they may be acting in bad faith. The purpose of continually swapping your representation could be to get you so aggravated with the claims process that you end up accepting any settlement you are offered, regardless of what your claim is worth.
What to do if your homeowner insurance company is stalling?
If you suspect your insurance company is stalling, there are a few steps you can take on your own to help keep the claims process moving. While you are in the midst of settling an insurance claim, you must remember to be your own advocate by staying organized and holding your insurance adjuster accountable. You may do this in the following ways:
- Gather and organize all your records from an accident or other covered event and keep them in one easily accessible location. Doing so will allow you to quickly and easily locate documents if your insurance adjuster claims not to have them. Documents that should be kept in a secure, yet easily accessible location are photos of the accident or property damage, medical records, witnesses’ contact information, repair estimates, police reports, and reports from insurance adjusters.
- Keeping a comprehensive timeline of events following an accident or other insured event can help you hold your insurance company accountable. Although documenting every interaction with your insurance adjuster can be tedious, if they are acting in bad faith a timeline will help you, and your attorney, should you decide to hire one, substantiate your claim. We recommend documenting every interaction with an insurance adjuster by taking their name, when you spoke, and a short summary of what you spoke about.
- Cooperating with your insurance company is essential. If your claim is against your insurance company, you are legally and contractually obligated to cooperate with them. As such you should supply your insurance adjuster with any information and documents they request in a timely fashion.
How can an attorney help you?
Though staying organized, documenting your interactions with your insurance company, and being cooperative are all great ways to ensure that a claim is not stalled because of your own actions, it is important to remember that there is no substitute for a knowledgeable attorney who can advocate on your behalf if an insurance company is indeed acting in bad faith.
Pursuing an insurance company acting in bad faith is no easy task. Not only can a bad faith lawsuit take a substantial amount of time and resources to complete, insurance law is complex and you will need an attorney who is familiar with Florida state law to help determine if your insurance company is indeed acting in bad faith. An experienced attorney will have knowledge of the precedents set by the courts in Florida, and should be able to give you a thorough understanding of how your case stacks up against previous cases.
Contact us today
Whether you have lost a loved one, were involved in a motor vehicle accident, or had your home damaged in a flood, the insurance claims process is arduous enough without having to also deal with an uncooperative insurance company. If you believe your insurance company is acting in bad faith, call the law offices of Johnson & Williams, P.A. today.
We have years of experience and have helped people throughout Orlando and surrounding communities get the settlement to which they are entitled. To schedule a consultation to discuss your needs, please contact us online or call Johnson & Williams, P.A. at (407) 245-1268.